Jun 25, 2021

Flack about "Flack": A Britcom about Quieting Celebrity Scandals, Like Being Gay


Flack, apparently about a woman who does damage control for celebrity scandals, popped up on my "Pride Month" list on Amazon Prime, so I plugged it in.

Scene 1:  In a ritzy hotel room, a woman named Robyn is performing CPR on a naked twink while the muscular, swishy Patrick has hysterics.  They were doing a lot of drugs, and the boy overdosed.  "I'm fucked!" he yells.  "If this comes out, my career is over!"  What about concern over the dying twink?   

He's ok, and is paid to not out Patrick, but I'm still not happy at the depiction of the swishy queen, or his concern that coming out will destroy his career. Honey, everybody knows, and nobody cares!

Scene 2:  A bright, sunlit room.  Robyn is awakened by a little girl.  They hug and kiss.  Oh, no, a juxtaposition of the sordid, sinister, secretive gay world and the normal, sunlit world of heterosexual nuclear families!  And this was on the Pride Month list?

Robyn's sister, husband, and baby arrive to demonstrate "normal" life.  While Dad stays home to take care of the kids, Robyn and Sis throw a flower off a bridge in London (not Tower Bridge).  "Should we say a prayer?"  "Don't be ridiculous! We don't believe in anything except the sanctity of the heterosexual nuclear family and the sordidness of gay life!"  They hug and kiss (gosh, heterosexuals get a lot of mouth action).

Scene 3:  Robyn goes to work in a glass and steel office building. The boss, Caroline, shows her a pants suit and asks "Does this make me look like a lesbian?"  While I roil at the homophobia, she explains: "I want to look like a lesbian.  I'm going to a benefit for lesbians."  Now I'm just wondering why lesbians need a benefit.  They're not cancer patients.

On to Robyn's assignment: They've paid off innumerable one-night stands of famous chef Anthony Henderson, "a devoted husband and father," but this one has photos.   Wait, what happened to Patrick?  Was the swishy, decadent gay guy just an intro tease?

Robyn meets her new assistant, Melody, explains the show's premise (not really necessary at this point), and gives her the job of paying off Anthony's one-night stand.

Scene 4;  Robyn in a bar, watching a video of Henderson demonstrating how to make a  "family friendly dish for you and the missus."  He arrives.  Robyn wants to know how many women he's been with.  He replies "I love my wife, but I'm a fucking idiot."  If this is all going to be about heterosexual machinations, I'm outta here.  Maybe the next episode will be better.

Episode 2: "Summer"

Scene 1:  Robyn at a gigantic nightclub full of muscular shirtless guys.  Cocaine comes raining down from above.  Whoops, she's just daydreaming, while at a Narcotics Anonymous meeting.  A guy is revealing how he hit rock bottom: he was so coked that he ended up in the bathroom, getting a hand job from a MALE waiter.  Ok, we're back to the homophobia.  Sex with a guy!  How horribly degrading!  He really hit rock bottom!  

Um...I had sex with a guy about an hour ago.  How is this supposed to make me feel?

Scene 2: 
 Robyn goes home for dinner with...hey, she has a husband. What was she doing all alone in her sister's house?  Sister and her husband are there, too.  They display their wedding rings.  Back to the juxtaposition of sordid, sinister, destructive, rock bottom gay hookups with blissful heterosexual marriages.

Scene 3:  Robyn goes to work.  Her coworker tells a story about a hookup who burned her with a cigarette, so she broke his nose, which turned him on.  

On to this episode's case: Teenage "good girl" popstar Summer Bunfo's career is tanking, so she needs a scandal to return her to the spotlight.  They brainstorm.  Drug bust? Criminal boyfriend? Mental breakdown?  Lesbian sex tape? 

Everyone (except Summer's Dad) loves the idea of a lesbian sex tape: "you come off as a dirty little minx. Britain's sweetheart has a dirty secret."  Why will Patrick's career end if he's outed, but Summer's career will be saved if she says she "experimented with lesbianism"?  Maybe the "experimenting" part? She's not really a lesbian, she hit "rock bottom" and did degrading things, but she's all better and heterosexual now?

Episode 3:  Robyn has to save the career of a stand up comic who told some transphobic jokes. 

Episode 4: Organic cosmetics.

Episode 5: Problem not stated in the synopsis.

Episode 6:  Patrick, the guy from the Scene 1 tease, is getting married!  To a woman!  I don't like how this is turning out, but maybe another post.

Next: "Will Patrick Be Vindicated on Flack?"

Jun 24, 2021

"Katla": Everyone in Iceland is Depressed, Dying, or Full of Secrets

The Icelandic drama Katla got good reviews, and has an interesting premise.  Plus Haraldur Stefansson, who plays Einar, is gay.  Maybe there are some gay characters as well.

Episode 1, Scene 1:  A closeup of a naked women covered in vocanic ash walking down a mountain. The camera lovingly lingers on her body parts.  Disgusting!  I'll just fast forward past the heterosexist objectification of the female body.

Scene 2: A middle-aged woman in bed with a man with bad hair and a lot of tattoos (Balthasar Breki Samper, only with hair).  She gets up and grabs a pill from a well-stocked medicine chest: she must be either a drug addict or dying.  

Switch to an elderly man, Gisli, who has just shot some kind of animal -- it looks like a mutated monster sheep.  He sighs and drags it away.

Middle-aged woman gets into her car and drives through the village, while listening to a plot dump on the radio, as Gisli is being interviewed: the volcano Katla started erupting a year ago.  Almost everyone who lived nearby has moved away.  The remaining residents are doing damage control, keeping trespassers out and monitoring the animals.

She drives to the volcano and takes some measurements.  Whoops, a close-up of the butt of the Naked Ash Lady. Then her front.   I'm starting to get the impression that this is pornography, 90% Girls! Girls! Girls!, 10% plot.

Scene 3: Young Guy is sweeping up volcanic ash when Second Elderly Guy arrives.  Is she here?" he asks. Nice to avoid using names. 

Second Elderly Guy goes into the house, where Middle-Aged Woman is talking on the radio.  He helpfully informs her that she is is daughter, Grima.

Dad: "It's fixed.  How is your slow, lingering terminal illness coming?  Do you have enough pills?  I can steal you some more."  
Grima: "No, thanks.  I have enough to last until I die.  Want coffee?"
Dad: "Why don't you go to Reykjavik to die?  You shouldn't stick around here just because you miss Asa, your sister, who disappeared last year. She's obviously dead. Let me just look at some photos of the three of us together, to emphasize how we were deliriously happy then, and are miserable and dying now."

Scene 4:
Angry-looking scientist (Bjorn Thors, only with a beard) rushes through a lab to be told that something weird is going on at the volcano -- I can't tell from the computer screen what it is, but it's shocking.  He decides to go take a look for himself, even though his assistant advises: "We're too important.  Have an insignificant, expendable villager do it."  

He calls Grima: "I'm coming down to check on a shocking thing at the volcano.  Is the hotel still open, or can I stay with you at the cabin?"  Grima "Oh, stay with me, please!  I may be dying, but you're hot!"

Grima tells Dad that he's coming, so we can get another plot dump: "You mean Darri Hanson, your old professor, whom you dated and then broke up with for no apparent reason, and still holds a torch for  you?"  

Suddenly they rush out side, pick up a pair of binoculars, and see the Naked Ash Lady stumbling toward their cabin.  They grab her, wrap her in blankets (thank God!  but we still see her disgusting ash-covered face).

Scene 5: I guess that was another elderly father-middle aged daughter team.  Grima the Dying is still oblivious, delivering milk to the hotel.  Suddenly Gisli, the elderly  guy who shot the weird sheep monster,  calls: "There's been an emergency.  We have to pick up a woman at the camp. Probably a volcano tourist who got lost."  

Grisley tells another dying woman that he's going out on an emergency run, but her nurse stops him: "She can't stay here much longer.  She has to be moved to Reykjavik!"   Some emergency!  Grumpy has time for another plot dump: "You must be referring to my wife, who is dying, but refuses to go to Reykavik."  Is everyone in this village dying?

Scene 6:  The second elderly father-middle aged daughter team is trying to interrogate Nake Ash Lady, but she's not articulate.  Maybe a hot shower?  Clean the ash off?  Give her some clothes?  Or would that defeat the purpose of the show, to display lady parts?

Scene 7:  Gumball and Grima drive to the so-called emergency.  He asks "Are you ok with going on an emergency run while dying?"  "Sure, I'm fine. I'll ignore the debilitating pain. Let's talk about your dying wife."

Switch to Grima's Dad working on a car, while  Young Guy -- Grima's husband Kjartan -- complains about the ravens.  "They've become such a nuisance since we all started dying! Want coffee?  How long has it been since you had a woman?" Why do you ask, Kjartan?  What do you have in mind?  

They go up to Grima's Dad's room, pet his cats, take their dying-medication, and...discuss running away together.  "Of course, Grima would never consent to go with us."  "Screw her!  She'll be dead by Thursday anyway!" 

Scene 8: Gisli and Grima finally arrive at the cabin, and interrogate Naked Ash Lady (still covered in ash.  That must be the director's fetish.)  Her name is Gunhild, she's from Sweden, and she was traveling with Thor Jonsson.  Grima's Dad!  She doesn't remember what happened.    

They finally decide to take her to the hospital, where the nurse wipes the ash off Naked Ash Lady's body in loving detail.  She mentions that she works at the hotel in the village!

Scene 9: 
 Grima's Dad arrives at the hospital.  They yell at him for bringing unauthorized tourists to the volcano.  He denies it.  They take him to Naked Ash Lady: she calls out lovingly "Thor!  Thor!", and he gasps in shock and runs away.

Meanwhile Gisli goes to the hotel to yell at the manager for hiring unauthorized Swedes. "I have no idea what you're talking about.  Wait -- did you say she was completely naked?  Tell me more!  Did the ash cling to her supple young body..."  Finally she remembers a Swedish girl named Gunhild who worked there 20 years ago.

Scene 10:  Grima's Dad burying a raven.  Grima arrives and asks what's going on. He won't speak.  Got to draw out the suspense?

Meanwhile, Gisli brings the hotel manager to the hospital.  Naked Ash Lady recognizes her, and apologizes for missing work!   The manager rushes back to the hotel and checks the records -- someone named Gunhild worked there in 2001, who looked exactly like Naked Ash Lady!

They somehow manage to find ex-employee Gunhild's telephone number in Sweden, and call.    A young man with autism answers -- her son, Bjorn. "Mom is out walking the dog.  Why do you ask?"   

Scene 11: Grima's Dad, being depressed and cooking.  He hears a noise and goes outside to check -- the raven he buried earlier has come back to life -- no, wait, it's an exact duplicate of the one he buried earlier.  

Scene 12:
Darri the Hot Scientist packing to go to the volcano, Hotel Manager looking all nervous and guilty, and Bjorn the young man with autism getting another call: "We have a woman here in Iceland who says she's Gunhild from Uppsala.  Would you mind talking to her?"

They put Naked Ash Lady -- finally cleaned up -- on the phone.  Bjorn recognizes her voice and asks "Where are you, Mama?"  Just as his mother Gunhild walks in!   He puts her on the phone.  

Mom Gunhild:  "Why are you in Iceland?  Who is with you?"  "The only person I know here is Thor."   Mom Gunhild, shocked, slams the phone down and rushes out onto the patio to look sad.  

Scene 13: In the barn, Grima and Kjartan discuss how the cows aren't giving enough milk.  Their dairy farm is dying, like everybody and everything in the village.  Kjartan wants to leave -- at least in Rejkavik, there is a color besides gray.   "No, absolutely not.  We're staying here until I finish dying!"  

Scene 14: Old Gunhild making plans for the care of Bjorn and the dog while she's in Iceland.  "Why go all the way to Iceland to talk to a woman who happens to have the same name as you?"  

Scene 15: Grima investigates an old building and finds -- her long disappeared sister Asa, covered with volcanic ash. The end. OMG, not another one!  At least she's wearing a sweater.

:  No.  An occasional bulge, if you look carefully.  The only guys who are reasonably attractive are Darri the Scientist and Gisli's assistant Einar (Haraldur Stefansson).

Other Sights:  Everything is gray all the time. Even clothes and books.  

Depression:  When everybody is dying, nobody is dying.  Instead of piling on the pathos, it becomes ridiculous.

Gay Characters:  I thought Kjartan and Grima's Dad were having a moment, but probably not. The hotel manager seems awfully interested in the naked lady.

Ash Porn:  How many Naked Ash Ladies are going to come stumbling out of the volcano?

The Mystery: Given away in the scene with the ravens.

My Grade: D.

Jun 23, 2021

"So Not Worth It": Korean Sitcom with College Student Con Artists

 So Not Worth It is a Korean sitcom about college students in an international school in Seoul.  I watched Episode 1 to see if there were any gay characters.

Scene 1: The upscale plastic-and-glass lounge.  Some new students are introduced to Ms. Park Se-wan (played by Park Se-wan), the dorm resident advisor, who turns out to be scheming and manipulative.  When a girl is locked out of her dorm room, Se-wan offers to use the master key for 20 demerits, or break in for 10,000 won ($80).  

Scene 2: Se-wan meets Jamie ("American freshman, interdisciplinary), who wants a single room with a private toilet so he won't have to share with other guys.  They don't have any.  

Jamie is played by Shin Hyun-seung, who had his screen premiere in Be My Boyfriend (2021).  He's having a very busy year.

Scene 3:
A feminine, red-haired boy named Sam ("Korean-Australian, design major") brings lunch for two girls: Carson ("American, architecture major, boyfriend in the army") and Minnie ("Thai, fashionista, man-eater").  

Carson is played by Carson, and Minnie by Minnie.  Sam is played by boy band singer Choi Young-jae, who may be gay in real life.  A google search revealed a tumblr post calling him a "Gay Legend."

Resident advisor/teen operator Se-wan arrives.  They criticize her old-fashioned phone with the cracked screen.  She grifts a lot of money, so why not buy a new one?  I guess it's more fun to con people: when newbie Jamie trips on her charger cord, she accuses him of breaking the phone, and he offers to buy her a new one.

Scene 4: Two guys in a dorm room, and a third, Hyun-min ("Korean, sophomore, agriculture major") in a sleeping bag on the floor. 

Hyun-min is played by Han Hyun-min, an African-Korean model and actor.

He's tired because he has a five-hour commute from Incheon every day.  Hans ("Swedish, grad student, anthropology") sympathizes, but says that he can't stay there every night just because he's friends with Terris ("from Trinidad, grad student"): it's against the rules.

Fortunately, Terris is moving in with the girlfriend he just met, and he needs someone to stay in the dorm and pretend to be him.  How about the other black guy at the school?  The Professor can't tell them apart (they just have one professor?  But they're in different fields).

No.  Hans points out that it's an international dorm.  No Korean citizens allowed. Rules are rules.

Terris is played by Terris Brown, who grew up in New York, studied Korean at the University of Hawaii, and eventually moved to Korea, where he has done mostly radio and tv work.  Hans is played by Joakim Sorensen, originally from Sweden, but living in Korea for the past nine years.

Scene 5:  Resident advisor Se-wan demands that Newbie Jamie hand over the money for her new cell phone.  He doesn't have it right now, so she threatens to beat him up.  I assume that they'll be a bickering Sam-and-Diane couple.

Scene 6:  The three girls in their dorm room, discussing whether Se-wan has intimindated Jamie enough to make him pay for the phone.  Minnie the Fashionista rushes out to the club after discovering that the famous actor Hyun-Bin is there!

Scene 7:  In the international dorm.  Hyun-min wakes up to the alarm at 7:00 am. He's thrilled that he got to sleep in.

 Hans arrives, angry with him for staying there, planning to report him to Se-wan.  Hyun-min grabs and hugs him: "I'll do anything.  I'll clean the room.  I'll do your laundry..." But Hans is adamant.

Scene 8: Se-wan and Jamie working at a factory, loading cases of a soft drink ("soul that wins the heart") onto a truck.  He drops a case, and the supervisor yells at Se-wan for bringing him in.

Later, they go to work in a restaurant, but Jamie drops a huge bowl of noodles onto a customer.  Again, the supervisor yells at Se-wan.  She starts to get a change of heart: "I thought he'd slack off by now, but he's working hard."

Scene 9: 
 The guys in the lounge, playing Jenga.  Carson enters, irate because someone stole her umbrella.When she finds him, she's going to kill him.  The guys are aghast.  Sam gossips: "Whoever took it is screwed.  Her Dad is a mob boss in Chicago."  Uh-oh, Hans remembers taking the umbrella by accident.  Then losing it!  He's literally going to be killed by the gangster's daughter!

Scene 10: At the restaurant, Se-wan and Jamie on their lunch break.  Why is Jamie eating so little?  Jamie: "I don't feel well."  Se-wan: "Too bad.  We still have two more jobs to do today.  This is how we survive in Korea, so get used to it."

Scene 11: Carson posting a sign offering a reward for tracking down the umbrella thief.  Sam the feminine lackey thinks she is over-reacting. Hans starts to confess, but changes his mind; he doesn't want to be murdered.  

Meanwhile, Terris and Hyun-min discuss how to convince Hans to let Hyun-min stay in the dorm room.  They notice Hans being nervous around Carson, and deduce that he took the umbrella.  Ah-hah, a plan!

Scene 12:  The dorm room.  Hyun-min gets Hans to confess that he took the umbrella, then lost it.  They look for it, but just get soaked from the rain. So they go down to the lounge, and Hyun-min starts to confess.  He's going to take the fall!  Then Minnie the Fashionista arrives with the umbrella.  That plotline ended with a whimper.

Scene 13: 
 Se-wan and Jamie working at the restaurant. More noodles spilled on heads. 

Meanwhile, Hans and Hyun-min in the dorm, holding hands: "You were going to sacrifice yourself for me!"  They hug.  Hans is crying with joy.  Hyun-min grins smugly; he got what he wanted, permission to stay in the room.

Scene 14: Leaving the restaurant at the end of their shift.  Jamie hands his pay to Se-wan to cover the "broken" cell phone.   Then he collapses.  

In the ambulance, Se-wan feels guilty for working him too hard, and confesses that her phone screen was already broken.

The doctor determines that he hasn't used the bathroom for a week (he said he didn't like sharing, but this seems absurd).  So he wasn't being overworked, he just had to...um...go.  I can't believe that Jamie's plotline was about poop.

Scene 15: 
 Hyun-min and Hans being boyfriends, sharing a soda (with two straws), feeding each other popcorn.  But Hans still tattles to Resident Advisor Se-wan about the rule violation! "You're a giant asshole!" Hyun-min exclaims.  "I even got on my knees for you!"  Really?  How big was he?  

Se-wan: "You can stay in the room.  Rules are rules, but people are more important." She glares at Hans.

Hans slinks off in disgrace.  Se-wan chuckles; she was not being altruistic at all!  "Now I own you, Hyun-min."

Scene 16: Jamie and Se-wan on the bus.  She's asleep, so Jamie makes a phone call: "It's working out fine.  Nobody knows my secret, and I'll make sure no one ever finds out."  Maybe don't say that with Se-wan right next to you?

Diversity:  It was interesting to see non-Asian actors speaking fluent Korean, but there can't be that many available, leading to some bad over-acting.

Laugh Track: Very, very annoying.  What is this, 1995?

Friendship:  I didn't see any.  Everyone seems to be sneaking around, pursuing their own goals, willing to betray each other with nary a qualm of guilt.

Gay Characters: 
No one except Terrill expresses heterosexual interest, but I'm guessing that the only gay character is Sam.  He's feminine, and he had no plotline of his own.

Nope: I checked.  The last three episodes have a whole coming-out plotline, with Il-seob (Lee Jae-joon) gazing at one of the boys, saying "You look nice tonight," telling Gangster's Daughter Carson "I'm interested in...um...someone, but..."  and getting her advice to "Follow your heart" and some matchmaking: "Yawn...I'm tired.  I think I'll leave the party early.  Why don't you guys walk each other home?"  But no g-word and no kiss.  I'm not telling who is boyfriend-in-the-making is, but it's not Sam.

My Grade: C+

Jun 22, 2021

Legends of the Superheroes: a Long-Forgotten Beefcake Fest

January 18, 1979, a Thursday night.  I was 18 years old, upstairs in the room I shared with my brother.

At 7:00, he turned on the tv.  I expected Mork and Mindy, but he turned the channel to Legends of the Superheroes, explaining that it was a sort of live--action version of The Challenge of the Superfriends on Saturday morning.

I hadn't watched Saturday morning tv for a few years, and I was never much interested in superhero cartoons like The Superfriends, but I let Ken watch, glancing over occasionally from my German textbook to see if there was any beefcake.

There was.

The premise: the Justice League of America from DC Comics  -- Batman, Robin, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Captain Marvel, the Huntress, and the Black Canary (have you ever heard of the last two?)  -- gather to celebrate the birthday of retired superhero Scarlet Cyclone.  Suddenly the Legion of Doom announce that they have planted a bomb in the headquarters, and offer them some clues on finding it.  The rest of the hour-long special involves the superheroes deciphering the clues.

Batman and Robin were played by Adam West and Burt Ward, reprising their roles from a decade before.  The other actors were unknown, at least to me

Garrett Craig bulged nicely in his Captain Marvel uniform.

But Bill Nuckols was the most memorable,  a massive bodybuilder, half-naked in his Hawkman costume.

Apparently there was a sequel the next week, a spoof of Celebrity Roasts, but I didn't see it.

There was no internet yet, no way to find out anything else about the beefcake stars, so I shuffled them into the back of my memory, and eventually forgot about them.

But recently, I found an interview with them about Legends of the Superheroes.

Garrett Craig, who was a stand-up comedian before  Legends of the Superheroes, did a little acting, but not much: Third Party Guest in The Blue Knight, a swimmer in Heaven Can Wait, and Richie in Starsky and Hutch.  He's currently a substitute teacher at an elementary school.

Bill Nuckols returned to bodybuilding, placing #6 in the AAU Mr. America competition.  His only tv and film credits are Moose on Sunset Cove, and Wally in Supertrain.  

But you can buy Legends of the Superheroes on DVD and marvel at this long-forgotten beefcake fest from 35 years ago.

The Lost Bodybuilder Cop of Tulsa, Oklahoma

This was the cover photo of a book on constitutional law.  A sculpture of family of muscular naked people about to be squished by a scary giant hand.

Where did it come from?  I wondered.  Was it part of the Brutopian mind control plan of some post-Orwellian police state?

The back blurb listed the photographer, so I looked up his online portfolio, and found it:

It's the facade of  Nebraska State Administration Building, previously Woodmen Accident and Life, across from the Capitol on K Street in Lincoln.

Well, that's pretty Brutopian.

I wanted to know about muscleman who posed as the "father," and also the little boy on the right.  Did he spend his whole life walking past a naked image of himself at age 10?

According to the building's guide, the sculpture is "The Protecting Hand," by Lawrence Tenney Stevens, erected in 1954.

Lawrence Tenney Stevens (1896-1972) was one of the progenitors of the "Cowboy High Style" movement.    He grew up in Massachusett, lived in Europe, and finally settled in Santa Barbara, California and Cody, Wyoming.  He specialized in "big" sculptures, entrances to buildings and so on. Some naked women, but muscular men, too.

Like The Contralto, on the Esplanade in Dallas.

There's also a modern dance award in his name.

He was quite a cowboy.

Now, who were the models for the Grabbing Hand sculpture?

A Smithsonian Catalog revealed more: The subjects were Doug Henson, Mrs. Stevens, and Sylvia, Sara, Marc, and Chad Stevens, his own wife and kids.

The boy, Marc Stevens, (b. 1949), now lives in Passaic, New Jersey.

The baby, Chad Stevens (b. 1954), now lives in Montrose, Colorado.

I couldn't find out much about them.

According to the Gay Art website, Doug Henson, the model for the father, was a Tulsa "motorcycle policeman"  and a 1952 Mr. America.

Unfortunately, the 1952 Mr. America was Jim Park (left),  No one named Doug Henson, Doug Hanson, or Doug Hansen competed.

I checked the pro bodybuilder and pro wrestler databases.  Nothing.

A check of the Lincoln obituaries revealed  a Douglas Andrew Henson, born in 1924 and died on May 24, 2014.  He was named "Mr. Oklahoma" in 1949, just before he joined the Tulsa Police Department.

However, I can find no more on the "Mr. Oklahoma" award.  It may have been an amateur title, not based on an actual bodybuilding competition.

I guess there aren't any pics of Doug Henson in a posing strap lying around.

But here's a picture of a modern bodybuilder.

My 3.5 Minutes in the Ghetto of Rio de Janeiro with "Dom"

 The trailer for the Brazilian tv show Dom, on Amazon Prime, shows two hot guys interacting.  Ok, one of them has a woman gazing at him with a sucker in her mouth, but I can stand a little heterosexual symbolism it if will get me some beefcake and buddy bonding.

Scene 1: Rio de Janeiro, 1999.  A crowded disco in a favela (slum) called Moro dos Tabajaras.  Everyone is dancing and waving guns in the air.    A hot guy named Pedro (Gabriel Leone) dances wildly, snorts cocaine, grabs on to his male dance partner Armario (Digao Ribeiro).  I'm thinking "Oh, boy, a gay couple!", but then he grinds into and kisses about a hundred girls.  He leaves with one for hugging and kissing and snorting cocaine from her breasts. Then he has a seizure  Ok, maybe I can't stand so much heterosexual excess...

Scene 2:   
An elegant apartment cluttered with pictures of a boy growing up.  Pedro and the girl must have had a baby, and it's 20 years later, 2019.  The middle-aged Pedro is calling the emergency rooms to see if his son was admitted.  He tells his wife "I can't believe we have to go throw this again!"  

Wait -- I got it all wrong.  It's still 1999. Why set a scene exactly 20 years ago, if you're not going to have a time jump?

It's Pedro's father Victor calling the emergency rooms, as if he somehow knows that Pedro had a seizure during sex.  His wife -- no, his daughter -- reveals that a friend saw Pedro going into a favela.  Victor swears and yells, grabs his gun, and rushes out. A favela is a slum.  There are dozens in Rio.  How does he know which one?

Victor rides his motorcycle through the streets of Rio and arrives at a police barricade.  A dozen cops draw guns on him. Just for approaching a barricade?  He flashes his police badge, and they let him through.

The party in the favela is still going strong.  Why the barricade?  Victor rushes into the crowd and yells "Pedro!"  Why does he think that will work?  There must be a dozen guys named Pedro at the party.

Meanwhile, Pedro isn't having a seizure at all -- he's just having an orgasm.  He licks the inside of his girl's mouth. Who does that?  It's disgusting.  

Victor shoots off his gun to get the group's attention.  Um...not smart.  Everyone in the favela is armed.  A thousand guns point at him.  He yells "I want my son!  Where is he?" You'd think a police officer would be a teensy bit more street smart.

Armario, Pedro's dance partner, rushes to tell him that his Dad's here, acting crazy.  Pedro gets dressed (nice butt!) and rushes out.  Just as the gang bangers decide to shoot Victor, cop or not, Pedro appears: "He's my Dad.  I can handle him.  Let me take care of it."

They argue.  "Go home.  I'm fine." "Get on the bike.  You're coming with me." "No, I'm not leaving."  With a thousand guns pointed at me, I'd be out of there.

If this whole series is going to be set in 1999, with no time jump to the present, and with people acting this ridiculous, I think I'm out of here anyway.

I checked the premise to be sure: Dad is a cop with an absurdly counterproductive obsession with drugs, and Pedro is a coke head who becomes a professional burglar to support his addiction.  I don't think either of them are gay, but Gabriel Leone apparently played a gay character in the telenovela Verdades Secretas

Jun 21, 2021

Luca: Two Gay Boys in Love, But Don't Tell Disney/Pixar


In the new Disney/Pixar Luca, teenage sea monster Luca (Jacob Tremblay) lives beneath the sea in Italy.  He is forbidden from going above the surface, because the humans who live there are savage monsters, killing and eating the sea creatures. One day he goes Above anyway, and magically turns into a human  (sea monsters always appear as human on land, but revert back when they go underwater, or get wet).  

He meets Alberto (Jack Dylan Grazer), a sea monster living as human in a ruined tower.  They quickly become boyfriends.  Montage of them trying on clothes, dancing, working on a Vespa, arms around each other watching the sunset.

I'm starting to think that they're canonically gay.  As they lie on the ground, talking about their dream of owning a Vespa, Luca says "I never would have experienced any of this without you."  I swear that they're about to kiss.

By the way, Jack Dylan Grazer is playing a gay kid in the the HBO series We Are Who We Are.

Meanwhile life under the sea becomes increasingly repressive; Luca's parents are going to send him away to the Deep, so he won't be able to see Alberto anymore.  Alberto suggests that they hit the road together: they'll go to the human town, track down the guy who builds Vespas, and ask him to build one for them (their knowledge of humans is rather limited).  Of course, they can't get wet, or the humans will discover their secret, and they'll be gutted and eaten.  

 In the town,they encounter the bullying braggart Ercole, who has won the Portorosso Cup five years in a row, and a girl named Giulia, who intervenes when Ercole tries to push them into a fountain  (and reveal their secret). Uh-oh, I smell hetero-romance.  At least there's no slack-jawed gazing.  She tells them that kids "who are different" need to stick together.  Like to compete in the contest and win the prize -- Vespas!

She brings them home for dinner, where her Dad, the bulkitudinous Massimo  -- gulp -- is a fisherman: "I gut and cook anything that swims."  But Alberto cozies up to Massimo by offering to help out: "We know a lot of fish."  

They begin training for the three parts of the contest -- swimming, pasta-eating, and a bike-race.  The boys can't swim, or they'll be outed, so Giulia will do the swimming, Alberto the pasta-eating, and Luca the bike-riding.

That night, in the moonlight, Massimo calls Alberto away, leaving Luca and Giulia alone.  He shoots back a worried look -- is Giulia going to make the moves on his boyfriend?   

Not exactly.  They look through a telescope at the stars, and then Giulia shows him a lot of books about science and human culture ("The stars aren't fish?  Alberto was wrong!").    

Alberto interrupts.  Glaring at Giulia, he drags Luca away.  "It's time to go...."

Luca is all excited about his new knowledge of stars and planets, but Alberto will have none of it: focus on the Vespa, and the two of us together forever....

"Giulia has a big telescope at school in Genoa.  We could visit her...."

"Why the heck would we want to do that?"

The bullies appear and start to beat up Alberto.  Luca rescues him. Whew, back to the romance.

While they're training, Giulia puts her hand on Luca's.  Alberto jealously pulls him away.  This will not end well for Alberto.

Later, Alberto tries to put his arm around Luca, but Luca pushes him away.  He doesn't want to go on the road anymore.  He wants to go to school. 

Alberto: "We can't go to school.  We're sea monsters!"

They fight.  Giulia interrrupts.  Alberto snippily gets wet, so he appears as a sea monster.  Giulia screams; Luca pretends to be human, and afraid.  The bullies arrive and throw harpoons.  Betrayed, Alberto disappears into the ocean.

Covering didn't work: soon Giulia deduces that Luca is a sea monster, too!  "You have to leave, even though this is the happiest I've been since..."  Gulp, lo-oo-oove is in the air!  "Why did you come to a town where the main economy is killing sea monsters?"  Luca explains: "We did all of this to win the Vespa, so we could be together.  But that's all over now. Alberto is gone."

Well, not quite yet.  Luca finds Alberto in the ruind and apologizes for betraying him.  "Ok, you're sorry.  Whatever.  Just leave me alone."  

He approaches, tries to hug Alberto, and is swatted away.  "Just leave me alone."  "Ok, I'll go win the race without you, and bring back the Vespa, and we can be together again." Um...Alberto has made it pretty clear that he doesn't want to date you anymore.

Luca enters the contest by himself.  He wears a diving outfit during the swim section to avoid outing himself, but then it starts raining during the bike race!  Alberto tries to distract everyone so Luca can still win, but it doesn't work.  They end up on the bike together, out as sea monsters, being chased by harpoon-wielding bullies.  Still, they manage to cross the finish line, and technically win the contest.  Except....here come dozens of harpoon-wielding townsfolk!

Luca: "We're not afraid of you!"

Bully: "No, but we're afraid of you!  Everyone is horrified and disgusted by you, because you are monsters!"  Lots of gay symbolism here!

Massimo: "They are not monsters.  They are Luca and Alberto." Wow, his homophobia faded away quickly.

Turns out that there have been sea monsters in the village all along, hiding among the humans.  Now they have the courage to come out of the closet.  Although, as Luca's Grandma says, "Some people will never accept Luca, but others will."  

The boyfriends, now reconciled, have to decide if they're going to hit the road or go to school in Genoa.  School it is.

Wait -- only Luca is going to school.  Alberto is staying in the village with Massimo. Boo!  I don't care that they hug and cry, and Alberto says "We'll always be together...in our hearts."  They should both be at that school!

The homophobic director has explicitly stated that Alberto and Luca are heterosexual: they're too young to have sex, so obviously they can't have "turned gay" yet.  But non-homophobic fans aren't so sure..  You can have romantic feelings long before you have any interest in gettng physical.  Dennis the Menace is in love with Gina, at age five.

But of course, this is a Disney film.  No one in a Disney film can be overtly gay, less its homophobic audience (or what it assumes is a homophobic audience) starts to scream.

Deny it all you want.  Luca and Alberto are obviously, inntentionally portrayed as boyfriends, regardless of what the official party line says.  And in spite of the break-up at the end. 

Jun 20, 2021

"Weird City": Dylan O'Brien and Ed O'Neill Fall in Love


Weird City is a streaming series on Youtube (yes, Youtube has its own series now) about a future dystopian city divided by a great wall into the Haves who live Above the Line and the Have Nots who live Below (they thought the audience was too stupid to understand bourgeoisie and proletariat).  I've only seen one episode -- you have to pay for the rest -- but  it isn't exactly Cloud Cuckooland on one side and a post-Apocalyptic nightmare on the other.  Turns out that the real dystopia is Above the Line, where the Haves' every move is controlled by Influencers and Big Brother.  Below the Line is a perfectly pleasant working-class neighborhood, where people care about each other and have values.

Episode 1 drew me in with this photo, of Dylan O'Brien and Ed O'Neill in bed.

Scene 1: Stu (Dylan O'Brien) rushes into the restaurant You Must Eat Here (all Haves must eat there by the end of the month).  Two extremely effeminate guys, doubtless a gay couple, are at the bar, being served Belgian Long Grain Wheat Quintuple IPA and a Pumpkin Saffron Super Double Triple IPA.  Stu joins them and orders a plain old ordinary beer.  He explains that he grew up Below, but his Mom invented an app that removes apps from your brain, so they became rich and moved Above.

Which is a problem: when you're born Above, you're assigned a life mate at birth based on the needs of the community (you can hook up with other people until you actually get married).  But the poor slobs who grow up Below, and those who for some reason dislike their assigned life mate, must rely on the hit or miss "dating" scene.  

A new guy approaches to introduce the One That's the One App, which finds you a compatible life partner.  Stu decides to give it a try.

Scene 2: Stu goes to the lab, watches a commercial, gets his brain probed and DNA extracted, and answers some questions: "What is your favorite number?  What is your favorite food?"  How about asking his sexual orientation, or is everyone pansexual here?  Or assumed heterosexual?

Scene 3: Stu's life mate arrives.  Whoops, it's an old guy, Burt.  Ed O'Neill is 46 years older than Dylan O'Brien, which most people would consider a rather big age gap.  I'm 26 years older than Bob, and people keep mistaking us for father and son. 

Plus they were both expecting girls.  Burt: "I apologize for asking you this, but are you a homosexual?"  Stu: "WHAT???? Of course not!!!!" Ok, I get it.  The scientist didn't ask about Stu's sexual orientation because this is a homophobic society where gay people are shameful, or assumed not to exist.  They've even gone back to the retro homophobic term "homosexual."

Obviously there's been a mixup -- someone recorded the wrong gender.  Not to worry, they'll get their money back.

They start talking -- they're from the same neighborhood Below.  They go down to eat at Al's Diner.  Same favorite foods, same favorite movies, almost a goodbye hug.

Scene 4:  Stu goes back to the company to tell them about the mistake.  Surprise -- Burt is there, too.  They try to talk to Dr. Negari (Levar Burton), but he runs away. "So, want to get lunch?"

Scene 5:
  They skipped lunch and had sex instead! (Burt has a surprisingly nice physique for a 75 year old.).  "Had no idea that would happen -- well, maybe some idea."

Montage of the two talking, laughing, walking through the park, cuddling in bed, being playful with ice cream cones.

Scene 6: Stu brings Burt to meet his parents, who are completely nonchalant about him being 40 years older: "I was nervous that you'd be upset about Burt's age." "Are you kidding?  He's great!"  He was nervous about the age, not about Burt being a guy?  I thought being gay was shameful in this world.  Why is everyone so nonchalant about it?  I'm confused.

Scene 7:
Burt brings Stu to meet his adult children. The daughter is happy, but son Booj yells "You're not my Mom!" and runs off to play in the back yard. This guy is an adult -- played by 38-year old Chris Witaske  -- why is he acting like a little boy?  Stu buddies up to him. 

This is actually Charlie Hunnan, but he popped up when I searched for Chris Witaske, so close enough. 

Scene 8: Six Months Later.
  Stu and Burt, now married, are hanging the Christmas..um... display.  So same-sex marriage is legal in this world?  The guy from Negari Labs appears to tell them there was a mistake: Stu was supposed to be matched with a young woman, and Burt, with an elderly man who lives in a far-off resort town.  They are legally required to separate and hook up with their assigned partnersBurt's pod leaves next Thursday.

That makes no sense.  This was a match from a private company, so city laws about life partners wouldn't apply.    They were both born Below, so they don't get an official life partner assignment.  And even those people who get one are allowed to change.

Scene 9: Separated, Stu meets his assigned life partner.  Montage of him hating everything about her.  He gets up and rushes to the airport...um, pod-port...to grab Burt before he boards his pod.  They hug and kiss.  

Scene 10: They have moved Below, where the law doesn't apply, so they can stay married.  

I'm still confused.  The story only works if everyone is pansexual, with maybe some sexual preferences, so you are not surprised at getting a male or female match -- it's just not what you ordered.  But two guys are utterly shocked.  Add to that the muddling of societal law and dating app matches, and Stu interacting with the obviously adult Booj as if he were a little kid. Is this a touching love story, or a parody of a love story?  

"Record of Ragnarok": The Final! Apocalyptic! Battle! Between! Gods! and Men!

 I've been getting tired of Ragnarok, the Apocalyptic battle between Norse gods and giants that ends the world -- there are two tv series by that name, plus one or more Marvel Universe movies.  But Records of Ragnarok seems to be different -- a Japanese anime mash-up of gods and humans from many different traditions. I wouldn't mind seeing a muscular Zeus or Apollo.  Besides, some of those gods were gay or pansexual.

Scene 1
: A gigantic United Nations of gods: monsters, pig-faced, Cthulu, Hermes in a business suit, a very dissolute-looking Lord Shiva, a lady with big breasts.  Wait -- Lord Shiva, being worshipped by 900 million Hindus at this moment?  Should he be there?

A hollow-eyed god calls the meeting to order and announces the new business: a vote to determine whether humanity should be allowed to continue existing.  He says "mankind," a term discarded as sexist over 30 years ago.  The gods are not exactly woke.

They have been meeting every thousand years for the last 7 million to debate this question, and the vote is always "let them live."  Ignorant gods, there have only been modern homo sapiens around for about 200,000 years. 7 million years ago, it was just early primates who didn't even walk upright. But things have changed since 1021 CE: the Industrial Revolution, World War I, World War II, environmental degradation, animal species extinction, global warming!  And women's rights?  Everyone votes "No! 'Mankind' is a curse!  Kill them!"   

But just before they start exterminating "mankind,"  the Valkyrie Brunnhilde interrupts: Let's have a reality tv competition, a god against a "man," 13 rounds (a full season of episodes).  If the "men" win at least 7 rounds, "mankind" gets to stick around, but if the gods win, we'll get to wipe out "mankind."  

"Great idea!  Sounds like fun!  Call off the plague -- we'll do this instead!"

Odin objects: "The moment the match begins, the god will blast the 'man' to oblivion.  What fun is that?"

Brunnhilde: "Well, if you're afraid..."

Odin: "Who, me?  I ain't afraid of no 'mankind'! Bring  on the 'men'!"  

Scene 2: 
Thousands of gods and "men" congregate in a giant arena for the first battle.  They discuss who Brunnhilde has picked to represent "mankind."

Eventually Heimdall, a gigantic werewolf, yells "Hey-oh!  Who's ready for some carnage!"  

Representing the gods: An androgynous red-haired Thor!

Representing "mankind": the biggest badass in "man's" history...who else could defeat a god!  Note the rippling muscles, the long tresses!  The final hope of "mankind" is...wait for it...Lu Bu!  A military general of the Han Dynasty, whom no one outside of China has ever heard of.  You might want to include some biographical details here.. 

Scene 3:  The combatants are announced again: Thor representing the gods against Lu Bu representing "mankind"!  Meanwhile, in the stands, gods and "men" trash talk each other, insult the opposing team, discuss strategy, argue about who Brunnhild should have chosen -- things I assume happen at every sports match.  

The combatants are announced a third time.  The final battle between gods and "men" will begin soon!

Scene 4: 
 The combatants are announced a fourth time.  The final battle between gods and "men" is about to start!  In this corner, Thor -- let's hear all about him again!  And in this corner, representing "mankind" -- you guessed it, the famous Lu Bu!  Won't this be a great match, folks? 

A fifth time.  In a moment, the inal battle between gods and "men" will begin.  Who will win, Thor or Lu Bu?  The energy in the crowd is electric.  They're all wondering who will win, Thor or Lu Bu!

A sixth time.  Any moment now, the final battle between gods and "men" will start!  Are you excited?  Who do you think will win, Thor, the famous god of thunder, or Lu Bu, the famous warrior of imperial China?  

A seventh time.  This is almost it, the final battle between gods and "men"!  In a moment, Heimdall will sound the horn, and... I'm not kidding.  They've been introducing this battle since minute 10.07, and now it's minute 18.51!

Scene 5: The Final Battle Between Gods and Men begins!  Thank God!  Whoops, no it doesn't.  The combatants are announced an eighth time.  In case you've forgotten, they are Thor and Lu Bu.  Aren't you starting to hate those names?

Ok, now it's starting.  Wait -- no, both combatants  (Thor! and Lu Bu!) lower their weapons, too bored to fight!  They approach each other, and hug and kiss, and Lu Bu drops to his knees to give....sorry, I was making up my own story, since this one never starts.

They actually spend two minutes of screen time approaching each other, while everyone in the stands discusses the odd move.  Then we pause for the eighth introduction of Thor!  and Lu Bu!, in case you're getting senile from the 50 years that have passed since this show began.  Who will win the Final Battle. Thor or Lu Bu?   At minute 21.57, they start to fight.  

The endWTF?  

Beefcake:  Some muscular gods, and Lu Bu is rather hot.  Thor is too feminine for my tastes.

Gay Characters: Lord Shiva has that ennui-laden, decadent look of someone who is probably gay   Should he be in this disrespectful series?).  Lu Bu has a companion who keeps crying over him.

Tease: 12 minutes introducing the battle ad nauseam, and it never happens! Who thought that announcing Thor! and Lu Bu! eight times in twelve minutes was good story narration? 

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